Paddling Safety Tips and Supplies

Weather and Water Conditions

Please keep the following information in mind when paddling in Pinellas County:

  • Summer storms can approach quickly and without warning, often in the afternoon. Check the local weather forecast before heading onto the water, and be sure you leave enough time to return by early afternoon if you are traveling far from shore. Heed all small craft advisories when going out into all non-inland coastal water.
  • Some launch sites and surrounding areas are tidally influenced. Check local tide charts before leaving.
  • Currents can be very strong near the passes separating the barrier islands. Please use caution when crossing.
  • When crossing open water, conditions may become rough quickly. Canoes and kayaks may become swamped. Please be careful when paddling to such places as Anclote Key. Make sure your craft is seaworthy enough to travel the distance safely.
  • Pinellas County has a large number of motorized boats. Motorized boat traffic can be heavy, especially on weekends. Please use caution when crossing a channel; do so quickly and safely.
  • Five short blasts on a whistle or horn is the international signal for an emergency.

Required Gear

Florida law requires that a U.S. Coast Guard Approved personal flotation device (PFD) be readily available and wearable at all times for each person. Everyone younger than 6 is required to wear a PFD at all times when on the water.

  • A marine whistle, bell or horn approved by the U.S. Coast Guard must be within reach at all times in case of emergency.
  • A Coast Guard-approved 360-degree white light is required on every boat to use after dusk.
  • A Florida fishing license is required for anyone aged 16 or older.
  • Canoe motors must be registered with the state of Florida.
  • Canoes longer than 16 feet must be titled.

Important Supplies

  • At Least One Gallon of Drinking Water Daily Per Person
  • An Extra Paddle for Each Boat
  • Binoculars
  • First Aid Kit
  • GPS System
  • Bow and Stern Line
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Cell Phone
  • Insect Repellent
  • Dry Bag
  • Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Hat
  • Water Shoes
  • Change of Dry Clothes
  • Map